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On July 24, 2007 a new entity called the Freedom & Security PAC registered with the Federal Election Commission. The PAC was based in Minnesota and its treasurer was named Ruth Ann Michnay, but there was no indication about for whom it was raising money or what its purpose was.
The following month, United Parcel Service held a fundraiser for the new PAC. Contributions from the company, including the cost of the event, came to $2,750. It’s not clear how much more came in at the fundraiser but during its first six months of operations the Freedom & Security PAC brought in roughly $43,000.
So what is the Freedom & Security PAC? It turns out that it is Congressman John Kline’s Leadership PAC–a type of fundraising vehicle used by members of Congress to support other politicians while simultaneously building their own political networks. Hundreds of members of Congress now run Leadership PACs, which are effectively unregulated slush funds to which donors can contribute $5,000 a year, far more than they can give to campaign treasuries.
A few years ago, former GOP Congressman Joel Hefley of Colorado introduced a bill to outlaw leadership PACs, but was unable to enlist a single cosponsor. Most members of Congress publicly disclose their ties to Leadership PACs, but they are not required to do so. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, introduced a bill in January of 2007 that would require such disclosure, but that measure is still pending.
Last year, Roll Call reported that the previously unaffiliated Freedom, Security, Prosperity PAC had been formed by Florida Congressman Connie Mack. It determined this after discovering that the majority of donors to the PAC were executives at Hooters, where Mack had previously worked as a marketing consultant. Furthermore, the PAC’s treasurer, lobbyist Craig Engle, was also the treasurer of Mack’s re-election campaign.
Similar evidence suggested that Kline was the main man behind the Freedom & Security PAC. Its treasurer, Ruth Ann Michnay, handles the books for Kline’s campaign treasury. And UPS appears to be quite fond of Kline, having contributed $15,000 to his campaign during the past three years.
One main source of UPS’s gratitude is the key role Kline played in passage of a 2006 bill that significantly reduced its pension obligations. Kline was one of four cosponsors of the legislation, which he aggressively championed, saying it would help Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines and thousands of its employees who lived in his district. “We are on the verge of completing the pension bill that will provide security and peace of mind for thousands of families across the southern Metro area, tens of thousands of Minnesotans, and tens of millions of Americans,” he said in July of 2006.
It certainly secured peace of mind for Atlanta-based UPS, which retained Federal Policy Group, one of the top lobbying firms in town, to push for the bill to pass. The New York Times identified the company as being among the biggest winners from approval of the bill. The company “has 127,000 truck drivers who participate in a special type of plan jointly run by companies and unions, called multiemployer plans,” the newspaper reported. “The bill will give the trustees of such plans new authority to take remedial action if the plans become dangerously insolvent… They will be required to notify the participants of the crisis, and be allowed to reduce certain benefits to save money.”
Several other donors to Kline’s PAC, including Lockheed Martin and Associated Builders and Contractors, also stood to benefit from Kline’s pension bill.
I called Kline’s spokesman, Troy Young, and he confirmed that Freedom & Security is his boss’s PAC, but Young said that he wasn’t able to say anything more because he worked on congressional affairs and not campaign affairs. I left a message with Kline’s office to ask about the PAC and UPS’s support for the congressman, but have not heard back. (If I do I’ll update this story.) Michnay did not return an email requesting comment.
This story was reported with help from Taimur Khan.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average number of new microwave food products introduced every day In 1987:
Cocaine addicts prefer $500 in cash now to $1,000 worth of cocaine later.
Scientists in the Galápagos Islands credited an endangered giant tortoise named Diego with saving his species by fathering more than 800 offspring.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”